Tuesday, 20 August 2013
Day 14 - Ulaanbataar
Most people coming to Mongolia come here for the outdoors and hardly anyone actually stays in Ulaanbataar. In fact, wherever you read about it,it gets describe as an ugly city.
True to that, the first impression does nothing to prove you otherwise but spend more time there and you realise it has it's charm.
Sure, most of it's buildings are imported communist blocks from the old Soviet Union and these would not win any architectural prize. There are a few more modern buildings dotted around but neither is really outstanding by any standards. This with the Ger neighbourhoods and derelict buildings dotted about sure makes one want to leave as soon as possible.
Unlike most other capital cities there are no historical buildings or monuments either, just a few statues sitting in squares and on roundabouts but nothing really outstanding.
In fact, the sights you find in guides relate mostly to museums, Sukhbaatar Square and the Gandan Monastery. This is pretty meagre when compared with other big cities everywhere else.
Still, despite this, just wandering around and observing the people and crazy driving you will start to see the charm behind all of this and see that it is indeed worth spending some time here.
You will be forgiven though for wanting to leave to the countryside as soon as you can, especially once you see a glimpse of the mountains just outside the city between the concrete buildings.
I was tempted to leave sooner but decided that I have to see the city and see for myself what it is about. While not my favourite city, I like it enough and think it has it's charms so would recommend to spend at least a day here if travelling through. Make sure you go for a walk though and don't just take taxis everywhere a you will be mostly standing in traffic anyway.
Tomorrow, I will leave for the Terelj national park and get to see the side of Mongolia everybody comes here for.